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March of Freedom

author: Capt. H. R. Hubbard
published by: Mendon Dispatch, circa 1904
synopses: Personal accounts of the Civil War by Capt. Hubbard
personal subject: Capt. Hubbard and fellow officers march toward freedom

We slept until 3 or 4 o'clock in the afternoon, then hunted up a spring branch, took a bath and waited for night to resume our tramp for freedom and "God's country."

We were impatient and only waited until dark, then started out and soon struck the main road. The sand was about ankle deep in the road, and we almost walked over a horse and buggy with two men in it. We subsided into the fence corners, where the shadows and bushes concealed us partially. The horse was frightened, but the men paid no attention to us.

A mile or two farther on we passed a farm house, well lighted up, where a number of people were entertaining themselves with music and dancing. Not having our "glad rags" on, and being bashful besides, we did not stop.

The next place we passed a flock of geese hissed at us, and one old gander charged on me so vigorously that I instinctively gave him the old cavalry right cut against infantry with a heavy hickory cane I carried. The old veteran wrapped his neck around my cane and tried to take it from me; then staggered back "for a better position" — a favorite stragetic [sic] move in the south.

Late in the night we ran across six other officers who had escaped from the same prison two days before we did. We traveled on together several miles, then at the forks of the road in Edgefild district—or county—they took the right hand road and we the left, and we saw them no more.

Towards morning our appetites began to develop rapidly, and seeing what appeared to be a field of sweet potatoes we deployed as skirmishers and attacked it. The first hill I captured I discovered to be "goobers"—peanuts—and soon filled my haversack. My companions were eastern men and did not know "goobers," so they quit disgusted, and we soon retired to the woods to sleep, rest and cultivate our appetites during the day.

At night we hunted up some darkies and got some corn bread and sweet potatoes. After this we usually got one meal some time in the night and walked as far as we could. When we got to the Savannah river we got some colored men to set us across in a ferry boat. We usually "flanked" the towns.

One night about 11 o'clock we came into the town of Washington, Ga., before we expected to, and walked right through the main street from east to west. It was bright moonlight, but not a dog barked, and if anyone saw us they didn't let us know it. A day or two after that we were disturbed by dogs trailing us to where we slept in the woods back of a pasture. We drove the dogs off, then moved across the pasture, dividing a flock of sheep so that half o them followed us, obliterating our tracks, thence across a barn lot and orchard to the woods beyond. Then we waded about 100 yards up a small stream and retired to the thickest brush patch we could find. We were not disturbed again by the dogs, but we had very little sleep that day.

Soon the weather changed; rained some and grey colder. It was dark nights and chilly daytimes [sic]. In seventeen days we reached Chattahoochee river, nine miles southeast of Atlanta, and found that Sherman had started on his march for Savannah four days before; also that Hood had gone north with his Army. Lieuts. Bradley and McHenry were sick and gave out; the rest of us were not in prize fighting condition.

The eastern men felt that they were a long way from home and mother, and were inclined to give up, but finally Capt. Smith and Lieut. Pitt went on with me to try and overtake Sherman, while the others proposed to give themselves up to the nearest provost marshal.

We now changed our course from west to southeast. It rained all night, the weather turned cold. Smith and Pitt gave out, and I went on alone. Just at daylight I came to a plantation with buildings both sides of the road. I selected a lodging in the loft of a shop by the big gate, about 30 yards from the big house. The loft was partially filled with bundles of corn blade fodder, which I utilized for bed covering. Shortly after I had retired a black boy came up in the loft and took half a dozen bundles of the fodder. As I did not need them particularly I made no objection, but immediately went to sleep.

Soon after noon I was awakened by the proprietor of the plantation, a fat old man who came from the house, and sat on the horseblock within ten feet from me for two or three hours, and talked and gossipped [sic] with the passerby on the road.

I heard of the terrible destruction caused by the recent passage of Sherman's army without a shudder and with no feeling of anger or indignation. When I heard of the burning of the Oconee river bridge, fifty miles southeast, and the consequent stoppage of all train, I instantly resolved to travel by that road.

Just before night a colored woman came from the house, climbed the ladder, and looked in the loft for the hen's eggs. I introduced myself to her, had a confidential conversation, and arranged for supper, which she brought me when she came out to milk. The supper was a good one, lasted me 36 hours, and carried me 100 miles before my next meal materialized.

About the H. R. Writings

harmon hubard photo 1

#1 photo of H. R. Hubbard (shown)

#2 photo of H. R. Hubbard